While most of the media have tuned out and the chattering class has mostly moved on, a recent article by Megan McArdle in Bloomberg View, “Obamacare delivers. Just not very much,” reminded me that the calamity that is Obamacare can’t be swept under the rug. It is clear nothing will keep President Obama from declaring victory on every front, but the fact is, Obamacare is a bust. As a result, the next president will be confronted with the reality that at the end of the day, all Obamacare amounts to is a convoluted expansion of Medicaid that we can’t afford.
Let’s reflect on the passage of Obamacare. There were three central things voters really wanted and were promised when Obamacare was debated and passed. First, they wanted to keep their doctors and health plans if they liked them. Second, they wanted to ensure they would have lower rates. (Plus, President Obama also made the extra promise that premiums would go down by $2,500 per year for a typical American family.) And third, those with preexisting conditions wanted a way to find health insurance coverage. And of course, the central purpose of the whole exercise was to insure the uninsured. Well, Obamacare has theoretically fixed the preexisting-conditions issue, but in doing so, everything else about the health insurance system has gone up in smoke, and most of the problems are only getting worse.
Even if the White House and the Democrats convince themselves that Obamacare is spent as a political issue, the problems actually associated with our health-care system are not going to go away, and they will demand attention from the next president. After being such a pivotal issue in the 2012 and 2014 elections, Obamacare has moved out of the spotlight. In the RealClearPolitics polling average, the disapproval rating for Obamacare has dropped from 52 percent in April to a current 48 percent disapproval rating. There is Obamacare fatigue on the Hill, and no presidential campaign has the issue front and center. But if Republicans can just fight the 2016 health-care battle to a draw, it would represent a huge victory for the GOP.
So where do we go from here? What will the next president be confronted with? Obamacare has led to increased premiums, skyrocketing out-of-pocket expenses for consumers, businesses cutting back on what benefits they offer their employees, plans that offer less coverage, medical taxes that will stifle innovation and hurt vulnerable Americans and a huge number of people who will remain uninsured. The next president will need to deal with the colossal failure of Obamacare. Obama and the Democrats have created a system that is inadequate, unaffordable and unsustainable. It will be front and center for the next president, and it should play a major role in the 2016 campaign.